Is BYOD Right for Your Business?

BYOD or “Bring Your Own Device” to work policies are an attractive trend that many SMBs are adapting. The policy tends to attract new hires, increase employee morale and overall productivity for companies. But not every company will benefit from a BYOD program. Here are a few things to consider before implementing a BYOD policy in any company.

What does BYOD REALLY cost?

Initially, businesses are hypnotized by the thought of saving money with a BYOD program. After all, letting employees use their own personal devices for work will save the company thousands of dollars, right? Wrong. Employers should also consider the cost of IT support for the devices. Employers cannot regulate the websites that their employees visit on their personal devices. This means that employees who visit risky websites at home also put the business’s network’s security at risk. Considering that 60% of SMBs do not survive a cyber attack, allowing a BYOD policy without proper IT support has the potential to devastate any business.

What devices should be allowed?

To better secure the business’s infrastructure, it is a great idea to limit the types of devices that qualify for a BYOD program. Creating a list of approved devices can help eliminate employees from using old and outdated equipment and reduce the number of software or equipment upgrades.

Are there any other risks?

Yes, companies who store customer data may make themselves vulnerable to legal risks if they offer a BYOD policy. Because employers cannot regulate the websites that their employees visit on their personal devices, these devices become more vulnerable to data breaches. It is not uncommon for customers to take legal action when their personal data is exposed, lost or stolen.

While BYOD programs do save companies on the initial investments for PCs, tablets, and mobile devices, they can quickly become a legal and financial burden for the business. If you are still unsure if a BYOD policy is right for your business, contact First Call today to discuss your business’s needs with one of our technology experts!

References

Galvin, J. (2018, May 7). 60 Percent of Small Businesses Fold Within 6 Months of a Cyber Attack. Here’s How to Protect Yourself. Retrieved from Inc.: https://www.inc.com/joe-galvin/60-percent-of-small-businesses-fold-within-6-months-of-a-cyber-attack-heres-how-to-protect-yourself.html

IT Mistakes to Avoid While You Grow Your Business

Young plant evolution on light background

It is not uncommon for growing businesses to find that their IT no longer yields the same returns as they had originally expected. There are numerous factors that play into misshaped IT. Here are a few common ways that you can try to make sure that your business’s IT grows with you.

  1. Prioritize Your IT

Not prioritizing your IT is one of the most common mistakes SMB’s face. The reality is, technology is at the backbone of most businesses and should be considered in any financial or strategic planning. Planning for your technology to grow with your business can help you avoid some unexpected IT expenses in the future.

  1. Consider Your Specific IT Needs

It is easy to get wrapped up in the “latest and greatest” trends when making decisions to purchase new IT equipment. No two businesses are alike, and so it is important to remember that ‘new’ does not always mean that it is ‘right for you.’ When making new IT equipment decisions it is best to talk with a technology expert to gain a better understanding of the devices that are on the market and which ones will benefit your business the most.

  1. Share Your IT Plan with Your Team

Include your team when making decisions on new technology or IT policies that will affect them. By involving those who use the technology the most at your business, you will gain a better understanding of what is needed and therefore make a better decision. Making sure that everyone is on the same page will also assist with the transition into any new technologies or policies.

  1. Train Yourself and Your Staff

Make sure that you and your staff know of all the unique functionalities behind your IT equipment. Being sure that you are utilizing your technology to its full capabilities is a great way to ensure your return on investment.

There will always be an amount of uncertainty when planning for future growth within your company. By including your IT in your business plan, you can avoid some otherwise unforeseen growing pains.

5 Security Practices to Teach Your Employees

Many businesses provide their employees with the necessary devices that they need to conduct their work, such as mobile phones, laptops, or tablets. Surprisingly, not many businesses train their employees on the best practices to keep their work devices secure.  Here are 5 security practices that employees need to know to help keep company data safe.

  1. Network Connection
    Smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices are incredibly useful tools for employees to utilize. New mobile technologies allow for employees to keep productive while traveling or working from home, however; with the increase in mobility, there also needs to be an increase in security. It is recommended to instruct employees to not use Bluetooth connections on their work devices as they are easy for hackers to break into. In addition, private Wi-fi’s have proven to be easy to hack. Employees who work from home should be using a WPA2 encryption method to secure their Wi-Fi connection. No matter where employees are working from, be positive that the network connection is secure.
  1. Access to the Device
    Avoid connecting work devices to public internet hot spots such as at coffee shops or airports. If the devices are being used in public places, ensure that the work is being done on a secure network and that there is not any visual access to the device from the public network. Instruct employees to never leave a device unattended and to never allow for friends or family to use a company device.
  1. Password Security
    Complex passwords are not enough. Encourage employees to keep their passwords private and to change them frequently. Passwords should be changed at least every three months but, the more often, the better. It is also a recommended to not use the same passwords on multiple accounts. Instruct employees to use different passwords than the ones they use in their personal accounts as these passwords are often vulnerable and easy to hack.
  1. Monitor Software
    All the applications and software that are downloaded and installed on any work device should be monitored. Some software’s can have holes in their security and have the potential to make a network vulnerable to cyber criminals. Employees should be given a list of software’s that have been deemed acceptable to be download on their work devices. Whenever possible, employees should avoid downloading any unnecessary software’s to their work devices.
  1. Spam
    It is easy for cyber criminals to send employees spam that appears to come from within the organization. Encourage employees to check the sending address of any suspicious company emails. In addition, express a level of concern when opening any email from an outside organization. Extra special care should be taken when clicking on any link within an unknown email.

The majority of businesses who experience data loss will never recover. While it is important to remember that no business is ever 100% safe from cyber criminals, following these five tips is a great way to increase security within any organization. It is up to every employer to train its employees on the best security precautions for their business.

 

REFERENCES

Kosutic, D. (2015, April 26). 8 Security Practices to Use in Your Employee Training and Awareness Program. Retrieved from The State of Security: https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-awareness/8-security-practices-to-use-in-your-employee-training-and-awareness-program/

Do Business Better with Office 365

The modern work environment no longer requires for employees to be chained to their desks in a traditional office. As more office’s utilize laptops for their employees’ primary workstations, the benefits of Microsoft’s Office 365 become unavoidable. Office 365 allows for employees to work with confidence, from anywhere, and in their own way. Here are 3 reasons why Office 365 can help you do business better.

Work with confidence. Your files and data are save and secure with Office 365.  Automatic security updates occur monthly as new features are released. In addition, with Microsoft’s Office 365’s multi-factor authentication cyber-criminals no longer only need your password to hack into your account and steal your important documents. Office 365’s multi-factor authentication requires your password AND a security code that is provided to you instantly through a text, phone call, or an app on your mobile device. It doesn’t get much more secure than that!

Work better from anywhere you go. Take your files on the road with you, (even when you are off your corporate network) with Office 365. Collaboration is made easy with real time HD videos, digital white-boards, and content sharing. Your team doesn’t have to stop working just because you are out of the office. Keep productive with the advanced share features offered with Office 365

Work YOUR way. You no longer must be in the office in order to be productive. Access your files from anywhere and on any devices with Office 365’s mobile apps. Compatible with any Windows, Android, or iOS devise, nothing will stop you from getting your work done with ease. Not sure where you saved the last document you were working on? Find any document easily with Office 365’s Smart Lookup technology.

Successful people are constantly seeking out better ways to conduct their business.  Free your workers from the chains of their desks and offer them better work experiences with Office 365. Have questions about how Office 365 can help your office conduct better business? Contact us to set up a free consultation today!

5 Ways to Reduce Downtime

It may not come as a surprise that operating a business is an expensive venture. When a business is faced with technical problems on their network, software or equipment, costs go beyond just a financial standpoint. The time that employees spend trying to fix these issues, or waiting for technical support to do the same, could be spent in a manner that is productive for the business. Here are a few ways to reduce that risk, save your business some financial stress, and make sure it operates at an optimal level.

  1. Choose a vendor that aligns itself with the vision of your organization. Downtime is inevitable in the workplace. One way to ensure that your business stays productive during that time, is to hire the right IT management service. Having an entire staff for the management of your business’s IT systems can be expensive. Hiring a team of educated and trained professionals will help solve the problems in a quick, satisfying manner and can save stress from a financial standpoint.
  2. Consistently update your software and hardware. The phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, is not always applicable. In the fast-moving world of information technology, it is important to stay as up-to-date as possible. Keeping up with the latest updates for applications on your mobile devices and workstations is a simple, effective way of reducing the risk of downtime. While consistently updating systems may not eliminate downtime, it is the first important step.
  3. Implement procedures, in the event that a business experiences system downtime. An important step in reducing downtime is simply taking the necessary precautions to ensure that your business stays productive when disaster strikes. As was mentioned previously, downtime can be inevitable at times. Natural disasters and major power outages are unavoidable. It is useful for businesses to create a list of tasks and objectives to have completed while dealing with system downtime. Outages are unpredictable and being proactive in preparing for them is an easy and effective strategy.
  4. Purchase reliable equipment. While it might be tempting to make the decision to purchase lower priced products and services, it can greatly increase the risk of system downtime. The decision to invest in high quality equipment is a simple, effective step in being sure that you avoid system errors. Higher quality products will last longer and perform at a more productive level. Even though the initial purchase of low quality equipment is cheaper, it will require maintenance and will have a shorter lifespan.
  5. Regularly clean the facilities. Another cluster of problems that can occur with equipment is water damage, careless employees, small pests chewing through wires, and fires. Take the time to properly train employees on the importance of maintaining a clean workspace and checking the necessary structural hazards.

Operating a business is expensive and it is important to be confident in the stability of your technology. Following these few simple objectives will help minimize the frustrations of dealing with downtime. It starts with finding the vendor that is right for your business needs. Here at First Call, we separate you from those technical frustrations and help save your business time and money. Contact us to set up a free consultation today!

 

References

Anderson, M. (2017, August 29). Blog. Retrieved from 365 Technologies Inc: https://www.365tech.ca/minimize-system-downtime-risk-following-simple-tips/

Articles. (2015, August 3). Retrieved from The LMJ: https://the-lmj.com/2015/08/ways-to-minimize-the-risk-of-system-downtime/

Tso, R. L. (2017, December 6). Mitigating Risks Associated With IT Server Downtime. Retrieved from Huff Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-tso/aims-innovation-mitigates_b_3493037.html

Widjaya, I. (2014, December 9). Info Tech. Retrieved from Noobpreneur: https://www.noobpreneur.com/2014/12/09/reduce-risk-network-downtime/

Having Trouble Deciding if Your Business Need Cloud Storage or Online Backups?

It is easy to confuse the differences between cloud storage and online backups. At first glance, they both appear to do similar things. As a business decision maker, knowing and understanding when to use cloud storage or online backups can be the difference between setting your business up for success, or damning it to failure.

Cloud storage may be thought of as a secure virtual extension of your hard drive. With the demand for larger hard drives continuing to increase the overall cost of new laptops and computers, you can save money by purchasing a device with a smaller hard drive and supplementing additional file space with cloud storage. Cloud storage is also beneficial in that documents saved to the cloud may be accessed from any internet device (with the correct credentials, of course). You and your employees will also enjoy better collaboration options with the clouds’ sync and share options. While any business can benefit from these features, businesses who are based in remote locations or require travel for their work will most benefit from cloud storage.

Online backups should be a priority for all businesses. It is imperative that you keep online backups for important files in case of an unfortunate event such as a fire, water damage, or theft. Online backups are unique in that they create a replication of the files and documents (and their structure) that you choose and then store them in a safe, virtual location. This means that in the unfortunate event that your business experiences unexpected data loss, all your important file can still be restored, in the same file structure as they were in prior to the incident. If disaster strikes and your files are not backed up, it is (if not, completely) impossible to recover data from a damaged hard drive. In fact, 60% of small businesses will never recover from data loss. With online backups, you can schedule for the files that you choose to be backed up daily, weekly, or monthly, protecting your business from such failure.

There are many ways that businesses may benefit from cloud storage and online backups. While all businesses need to have a backup solution in place, not every business needs cloud storage. It is important to first assess your businesses unique needs before deciding on the best storage and backup solution options.

Here at First Call, we make it our mission to strengthen Montana’s organizations through predictable, secure, and advisable IT. Contact us today to set up a free consultation and discuss your business’s unique needs with one of our IT specialists!

Questions You Should Be Asking When Considering a Managed Services Provider

 
 
Questions You Should Be Asking When Considering a Managed Services Provider

These days it seems like there is a new MSP popping up every week. Deciphering their rhetoric is no easy task. The truth is every organization has different needs and every MSP has a different offering. No matter what the offering, there are multiple factors that you should be considering to make the right decision for your business. Here are the top 3 questions to consider before making your choice.

  1. Do they understand my business’s needs?
    No two businesses are alike, and an effective MSP knows and understands this. In order to make the right recommendations, MSPs need to first comprehend your business’s specific business objectives. If they are not asking you about your business, then you should not trust them to meet your IT needs.
  2. Is their support method reactive or proactive?
    The majority of MSPs offer a reactive support method; meaning that they sit around and wait for an issue to arise before acting to fix it. That’s how they make money. However, the reactive method requires longer down times and every minute you are down, you are losing money. In contrast, MSPs who follow a proactive approach are constantly monitoring your network essentials, making infrastructure recommendations that increase uptime and productivity, and working with your organization to make sure your It plan matches the needs of your business plan and budget.
  3. Do they have a disaster recovery plan?
    Disaster strikes (a tornado, earthquake, or fire)—now what? A superior MSP can answer this question with ease. If the MSP you are considering does not have an effective plan in place for worst-case scenarios, then you need to keep looking. As you already know, being prepared is what sets apart a successful growing business from a mediocre sedentary business.

Keep it simple. If they don’t meet these three basic requirements, then move on and find one that does!

Five Things You Should Do Right Now to Preserve Your Network and Systems

1. Backup Files Every Day – As catastrophic as data loss is, the number of businesses that still are not backing up their network is unbelievable. According to the Symantec Small to Medium Size Businesses (SMB) data, only 23% of SMBs are backing up their data on a daily basis and fewer than 50% are backing up data weekly. Any number of events can result in data loss, so the importance of frequently backing up your network cannot be overstated.

2. Ensure Backup Procedures Are Checked Regularly – Many times business owners think that they have a backup system in place only to find out after it’s too late that it hasn’t been working properly. It may seem like your files are being backed up daily, however, the backup could have become corrupt or it is not backing up huge chunks of critical data. Check your backup procedures regularly to ensure they are working properly in order to be sure that ALL of your data can be recovered. In the age of BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Devices) it is also important to frequently backup data on your employee’s personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys, so make sure you have a procedure in place to check those backups as well.

3. Make Sure Updated Virus Protection and Firewalls Are Always Enabled – Far too many companies either have no virus protection, expired virus software licenses, or disabled virus programs that aren’t running at all. This makes their business technology vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam, data downloads, and unreputable websites. Further, because of inadequate firewall protection about 40% of small to medium businesses will have their network accessed by a hacker. Chances are, when these businesses are attacked they will be entirely unaware it is happening. In order to protect your valuable data and assets, ensure your virus protection is adequate, up-to-date and functioning properly and that your firewall is intact. Finally, don’t forget to update security patches and change passwords when an employee leaves in order to deter hacking attempts.

4. Monitor Server Drives – Dangerously full server drives can bring their own set of problems – ranging from program and server crashes to sluggish email delivery. Proactive monitoring and maintenance of your server can spare your business a lot of problems down the road.

5. Regularly Check Critical Built-In Logs – Very few problems with technology emerge suddenly. These problems typically progress over time and evolve into more serious problems. Frequently review your critical built-in log files to help identify the problem before it has gotten out of control and wreaks havoc on your business infrastructure.

Can You Really Afford Not to Have a Backup Plan?

According to Symantec SMB, 50% of SMBs admit to having no backup and disaster recovery plan in place. 41% of those surveyed confessed that they had never even given much thought to implementing a disaster recovery or business continuity plan. If you are one of them, then you really need to think about whether you can afford the status quo. Answering these questions will help you decide.

1. How often is employee productivity and customer accessibility or service stalled each day from a downed network or system?

2. How much downtime can your business truly afford and what kind of backup or recovery solutions are in effect when systems are unavailable?

3. What level of IT support can be accessed? Can it be accessed quickly enough to minimize damage? Are you confident that your business can either be back online or be able to access lost data with minimal disruption, no matter what?

4. Is your most critical data frequently backed up? Is the data on the personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys of employees backed up? Are all backups stored in a location off-site and quickly accessible in the event of theft, fire or flooding? Are you using any custom installed software and is the supplier still in business should this software need to be re-installed or updated? Are account details, licensing agreements, and security settings somewhere on record, and is it duplicated off-site?

5. Are your systems truly protected from theft, hackers, and viruses? Are passwords to sensitive data changed whenever employees leave the company or business unit?

6. When was the last time you tested backup processes to ensure they are working properly? How quick were your back ups?

Answering these questions will help you understand if you are needlessly bleeding money every day by subjecting your business to the high hourly rates, service charges, trip fees and wait times of on-call IT support. If you are an SMB, you don’t have to fear technology failure. A trusted MSP can help you resolve these challenges in a more effective and efficient manner.

Contact First Call

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